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California Institute of the Arts

Ableton Live Course: Sound Production for Musicians and Artists

California Institute of the Arts via Kadenze


This course provides hands-on experience in producing, mixing, and sound design with a digital audio workstation. Students will learn the fundamentals (physics) of sound and digital audio, proper gain staging, where and how distortion enters recordings and mixes, how to set levels and panning, effective sub group mixing, and an introduction to signal processing such as equalization, compression, delay, and reverb. In addition to core audio and mixing concepts, students will learn various production techniques, such as sequencing, arranging, automation, using virtual instruments (e.g. synths, samplers, and drum machine plugins), working with MIDI, plugin formats such as VST/Audio-Units, and mapping digital USB controllers for the studio and live performance.

The material covered in this course will range from the foundations of producing music and sound design, to more advanced topics such as Ableton "racks" (Audio Effect Racks, MIDI Effect Racks, Instrument Racks, and Drum Racks), multi-band effects processing, advanced modulation, warping, time-stretching, and mangling audio, as well as taking advantage of Live's audio analysis tools for extracting grooves, melody, harmony, and drums from recorded sound.


Session 1: Introduction To Ableton Live 
This session will cover the fundamentals of Ableton Live, including Live Sets and Projects, tracks, clips, the Session View, the Arrangement View, exporting audio, and more. Session 2: The Nature Of Sound 
This session will cover the basic properties (physics) of sound, an introduction to digital audio theory, and gain staging. Session 3: Levels And Panning 
This session will cover the fundamentals of setting up a basic mix, including balancing levels, placing sounds in the stereo field, and mixing into pink noise. Session 4: Sculpting Frequencies: Equalization 
This session will cover using EQ to shape your sounds and mixes. Learn about the different types of EQs (3-band, Graphic, and Parametric) and how to use them on different sounds, using EQs for dramatic effect, as well as creating dynamic EQs. Session 5: Reverb And Space 
Learn about natural and analog reverb, sound reflections and absorption, and how to use Live's powerful digital 'verb to bring a sense of space and depth to your tracks. Additional lessons in using reverb for sound design and FX will be covered. Session 6: Compression And Dynamics 
This session will cover everything you need to know about dynamics processing and using compression to produce punchy mixes. Topics include an overview of how compression works using Ableton's "Compressor", buss compression with the "Glue" compressor, Parallel/NY compression, multiband compression with the "Multiband Dynamics" compressor, and Side-chain compression. Session 7: Slicing And Dicing: Sampling In Live 
This session will cover the foundations of sampling from a historical perspective (Musique Concrete to Hip Hop), and practical use of samplers and sampling including using Live's Simpler and Sampler devices for synthesis and sound design, chopping up drum breaks, etc. Session 8: Parallel Signal Processing: Ableton Racks 
This session will cover using Audio Effect Racks, MIDI Effect Racks, Instrument Racks, and advanced Drum Rack configuration for a wide range of applications including: dynamic audio effects, custom arpeggiators, multiband effect processing, and more. Session 9: Inside/Outside: Advanced MIDI, Syncing Laptops, Mapping Strategies, And Audio Analysis 
This session will cover a wide range of advanced production techniques including a deeper understanding of the MIDI protocol, syncing multiple Live sessions on different computers via a standard computer network (WIFI/Ethernet), mapping strategies for live performance, as well as advanced audio analysis in Live (extracting "grooves" from audio, and converting melody, harmony, and drums from audio-to-MIDI).

Taught by

Jordan Hochenbaum



4.9 rating, based on 45 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Ableton Live Course: Sound Production for Musicians and Artists

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    If you're just getting started with Ableton Live or have been trying to find a structured way to refresh your Ableton and sound product knowledge and techniques in general, look no further. This course really puts everything in place. My story - I started...
  • Profile image for Adam Wilbur
    Adam Wilbur
    Soooo... This has to be the best online course to get started as an electronic music producer in Ableton Live. It's pretty amazing to learn from such accomplished instructors. Not only are they legitimate heavyweights in the world of electronic music,...
  • Anonymous
    I am so glad to have taken this fantastic Ableton Live course with The California Institute of Arts and through Kadenze. It’s an amazing course that help all of those who want to step forward towards the musical composition, production and creation. Whether...
  • Anonymous
    This is a fantastic course for anyone interested in Ableton Live and the tricky listening assignments really help train your ear in subleties of EQ and compression and reverb. I loved the guest interviews and demos with Robert Henke from Ableton (MONOLAKE)...
  • Anonymous
    I highly recommend this course provided by CalArts and Kadenze either for the ones who want to get started with music production or artists who practice new media and live music.

    The course is very well structured, I had zero background in music theory, and I got the basic knowledge and was able to get my hands dirty immediately. Not only the software skill but also more important, how to construct sound fundamentally based on the comprehension of sound properties, in nature and digital context. For my purpose, I want to apply audio to visual effects, this course includes the essentials I need and is great for further self-taught as well. The instructors are so amazing, thank you, Kadenze, to make learning more accessible.
  • Chris Hawke

    Chris Hawke is taking this course right now.

    This course does not go into the tiny details about how to use Ableton Live. Rather, it goes over the major issues that go into producing a track, and shows you how to do it in Ableton. This was unexpectedly useful, because it made me consider a lot of...
  • Jeremy London
    This was a truly excellent course. As an experienced musician wanting to make the transition to audio production I found myself overwhelmed by the endless possibilities in the world of digital music creation. This course helped me get comfortable with audio production and specifically Ableton Live by breaking the material down into clear topics, and addressing the key steps when working on a track. There were also some very interesting sections on the historic development of various technologies and tools used in audio production today. I'd highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to become confident in creating music with Ableton Live.
  • Robin J
    I found this course very useful for learning the basics of Ableton Live.

    I wouldn't say that this course goes much beyond a beginner level/overview, but it provides a good foundation to then start learning from other resources.

    It offers a number of basic tips covering the full production process. Each lesson is engaging and provides insight into some of the meanings behind industry lingo.

    Although I had a premium membership to Kadenze, I only used this course for the reference videos, I did not complete the exercises. However I still found the videos useful, and went back to them a number of times.

    I have completed this review on request.
  • Profile image for Cherident Luckner
    Cherident Luckner
    I greet everyone, and I'm happy today because I'm part of one of the biggest courses in the world, and then I'm not playing I'm coming to play, I'm learning I'm coming to learn, I will focus on learning what I am learning. thank you
  • Anonymous
    This course is absolutely great! It's prepared in a logical and well-structured manner. Instead of relying on hearing only you are actually taught the history and the foundation of the software (e.g. reverb). Even better yet the assignments build on top of that and connect hearing and understanding the theory.
  • Garrett Johnson
    Kadenze does a great job making things simple and easy to understand. I learned so much from this course, and as I am producing my own work I was able to use many of these strategies right away. Thanks Kadenze!
  • Anonymous
    I am so glad this course exists. It was a dream of mine to go to CALARTS but unfortunately life took me else where. I am still able to experience it through this course and for that I am forever grateful!
  • Jacinta Lerwill
    I've taken a few beginner Ableton courses and I still learnt a couple of extra things from the first module of this course. It's easy to follow and comprehensive and well structured
  • Profile image for Kovi Moodley
    Kovi Moodley
    I learned a lot about how to use the plugins in the proper way and to make a difference to my end product. A very helpful course that I would take again as a refresher !
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course for an Ableton beginner. The instruction is clear and gives the student a great foundation for deeper exploration into Ableton Live.
  • Anonymous
    Excelente for understand ableton live flow and chains plug ins. I really recomend it.........................................
  • Anonymous
    First of all, this is not a free course. I got as far as the introductory section, video 7, when a message came to screen,” please subscribe to premium $20 pm to view content”.

    Unless I am mistaken this was a con.
  • Sky DeBaun

    Sky DeBaun completed this course.

    "Sound Production in Ableton Live for Musicians and Artists" with instructor Jordan Hochenbaum... is not just a superb introduction to using Ableton Live to produce electronic music.. it is much more! I'll quote the instructor's welcome message.. it...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    I am grateful to this class it is helping me in the music industry. I want to take my career to another level. With the assistance of this class this will give me better insight on how to create and produce the music I want to create. Also I am learning about the software products and how to use the software in my creation. Please remember women are getting into the music industry & music engineering. with this class you will make better decision on your creation.
  • Profile image for Myrto Ch.
    Myrto Ch.

    Myrto Ch. is taking this course right now, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    The course is very detailed and well formed. All the information given at the sessions is cohesive ,easy to understand and consequently memorize. I knew nothing about Ableton at the beginning, but even during the 3rd session, I started feeling confident . The instructor, Jordan, has the ability to pass the knowledge to the students and keep them focus and on track.
    Overall, this course has been an excellent source of information so far.
    Many thanks to Jordan & the rest of the Team
    Greetings from Greece, Europe


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